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London woman granted legal bid over 'stop and search' powers

Category: England

Published: 8th Jul 2011 16:46:50

A woman has won permission to bring a landmark challenge over the legality of stop and search powers used by police to tackle knife and gang crime.

Ann Juliette Roberts, 37, of Upper Edmonton, said the Metropolitan Police use the powers disproportionately against black people.

The black woman said the fact she did not have enough money on her Oyster card led to a clash with Met officers.

Officers insisted on searching her bag, she told the High Court.

High Court judges ruled her case raised "important issues" and gave the special needs assistant the go-ahead to seek judicial review.

Mrs Roberts is asking the High Court to rule Section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act "incompatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Section 60 allows officers to search anyone, without suspicion, for dangerous instruments or offensive weapons in a designated area for a 24-hour period.

Statistical evidence shows that a black person is more than nine times more likely to be searched than a white person, her lawyers said.

She was searched under Section 60 in September 2010 because an officer believed she was holding her bag in a manner that suggested she had something to hide, her lawyers said.

An officer took hold of her bag, which led to a struggle and other officers being called, Mrs Roberts' lawyers said.

She was restrained face down on the floor and handcuffed, the court heard.

Officers found bank cards with different identities, which she explained were in her name, her maiden name - having recently married - and her son's name.

She was arrested on suspicion of fraud and given a drugs test, which she was told showed she had a small amount of crack cocaine in her system.

She later received a caution for obstruction and tested negative for illicit substances.

Mrs Roberts' lawyers will contend the decision to caution her was unlawful because she had made no "reliable admission" of guilt.

A Met spokesman said: "We will consider the decision and prepare our evidence to defend the claim."

The case is expected to be heard by the end of 2011.

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